Question: I recently purchased a 700 acre ranch located in North Texas and am interested in deer and habitat management. I am confident that the buck to doe ratio is skewed and that there are many more does than bucks. Over the past hunting season we made quite a few deer observations from hunting blinds, and we saw about 5 does for every buck. And most bucks were young. We don’t really have an idea of what the total deer density is, but we know that we want to remove about 50% of the does so that we can get the ratio down to 2 does for every buck. What do you think?
Answer: I must point out that removing whitetail deer from your property, regardless of sex, creates more food for the remaining deer population. Everyone understands this simple concept, but don’t forget that deer will adjust their home ranges from neighboring lands and likely spend more time on your property because of decreased competition for forage. If the deer habitat on your property is at least as good as your neighbors habitat, then deer in the area will “immigrate” onto your ranch (meaning it will become a more important component of their home range) and re-balance.
If your deer habitat is much better than the surrounding area, then whitetail deer will continue to move onto your property (use your ranch much more) at much higher rates and you will see rapid changes with regard to buck to doe ratio. Bucks always position themselves for optimal food. This is why whitetail bucks are always anchored next to protein feeders, high quality food plots, and the best natural forage. So removing half of the does will improve your ratio, but remember than additional does and bucks will move in from surrounding ranches. It will take several hunting seasons, but it can be done.